You could almost sense the falling fire and brimstone in forums when both DriveClub and Watch Dogs were delayed mere weeks before the PlayStation 4’s release. While the platform holder had acted impeccably leading up to the next-gen system’s launch, we always felt that something would go wrong in the days before the big black box hit store shelves, and the loss of two major launch titles certainly struck with Muhammad Ali-like force. Despite the doom and gloom at the time, though, the anticipated titles’ unexpected absences didn’t really hurt much, as Sony went on to break sales records with its super machine, and struggle to keep stock on store shelves.
In fact, these delays may yet be a blessing in disguise. Early adopters have certainly been quick to criticise the lack of must have blockbusters in the system’s current software catalogue, but from a purely corporate perspective, the console’s been surviving just fine off fumes. Admittedly, the release of Sucker Punch’s superhero sequel inFAMOUS: Second Son gave it enough gas to topple semi-Xbox One exclusive Titanfall last month, but the black and blue behemoth’s been more or less sold out globally since its release over the past six months. Deploying the likes of Gran Turismo 6 as a next-gen exclusive wouldn’t have moved the needle at all on a device already out of stock.
And that’s part of the reason why the stars may be aligning yet again for the Japanese giant’s mega machine. Outside of the excitement of E3, the industry tends to slow down around May, with publishers more or less shutting up shop until the autumn months arrive. And under ordinary circumstances, you’d expect the PS4’s sales to slow down during that period also, as the platform holder prepares for the impending Christmas push against a no doubt refocused Xbox One. However, we don’t think that that’s going to happen this year, and that’s because the firm appears to have an almost flawless strategy for the coming summer season.
Whether it’s intentional or not, you can’t deny that fortune is on Sony’s side. It’s going to head into June with a massive sponsored marketing campaign for Watch Dogs, which has been associated with the PlayStation maker’s latest platform since the system was announced last year. The shrewd few among you may be eager to point out that the game’s not an exclusive, and that’s true, but every commercial, trailer, and billboard that you see over the coming weeks for this title is going to trick you into thinking that it is. Factor in the likely performance enhancements made possible through the hardware's architecture, and the exclusive content, and it’s going to sell best on the PS4.
It’s a boost that the console wouldn’t have got if the title would have deployed at launch. While the platform holder was clearly expecting Watch Dogs to help push its system back in November, it sold out without it, and now it has a chance to peddle new bundles leading into the all-important summer season – a period that would have been decidedly slower if the game was already out. And it’s not just the delay to Ubisoft’s hack happy escapade that will help, as fellow third-party release Destiny – a game that was originally due out in the spring – will pull the console back out of the sunshine months in September, and provide it with plenty of momentum leading into Christmas.
Again, this is a title that the Japanese giant’s doing its best to associate with its system. The title may be releasing on other formats – including the ageing PlayStation 3 – but it’s the PS4 version that you’re going to see advertised and promoted in hardware bundles. While this co-marketing partnership won’t swing the opinion of every consumer, the connection to Sony’s system will help sales – and we’re sure that the ‘From the creators of Halo’ quote won’t hurt either. Speculation suggests that the manufacturer’s also partnered with Warner Bros for Batman: Arkham Knight and potentially Activision again for the next Call of Duty, culminating in a formidable 2014 lineup.
So, where does DriveClub fit into all of this? Well, you can’t get by on third-party properties alone, and after a quiet couple of months, Sony will know that it needs to bring some heat in the exclusives department. Alas, the recent re-emergence of Evolution Studios suggests that we’re going to be playing its anticipated next-gen racer soon, and if we had to guess, we’d predict that it will be used to pad out that barren period between Watch Dogs and Destiny, alongside re-release The Last of Us Remastered. Again, if the semi-sim had released last year, its impact would have already been exhausted, but due to the delay, it now has an opportunity to accelerate hardware sales.
And that puts Sony’s newest format in a fortunate but enviable position. Unless it announces something new at E3, it’s unclear whether the Xbox One will have anything to counter the PS4’s almost perfect schedule of co-marketed content and exclusive software. While the summer months are ordinarily slow, the PlayStation maker appears to have the ideal properties to prevent the onset of any malaise, and that will give it serious momentum heading into the holidays. Of course, it’ll need to ensure that The Order: 1886 is finished in order to ensure that it keeps moving in the right direction, but even if it's not, it’s going to prove difficult for Microsoft to put the brakes on the Japanese giant’s best-selling box.
Do you agree that the various delays to major PS4 titles have actually worked in Sony’s favour, or are you still irked that you haven’t got to play Watch Dogs and DriveClub yet? Are you impressed with how the platform holder’s managed to keep its next-gen console feeling fresh, or has your device been gathering dust over the past few months? Move your mouth in the comments section below.
Do you agree that key PS4 delays may actually be a blessing? (52 votes)
Yes, the release schedule is much more spread out now
Hmm, I don’t really know what to think
No, I don’t care about the commercial implications at all
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